A psychologist’s look at SMM

In today’s world, Social media marketing (SMM) is a growing field and everyone involved in any kind of business probably knows how important it is to the success of their business. No matter what you sell or who you sell it to, using social platforms as a marketing tool can help you attract more consumers and grow your brand. Studies show that 90% of marketers agree that social media marketing increased their business exposure. So, the fact that SMM is something really important in our digital era is not hard to believe.

However, you may not be sure how it relates to psychology and what do marketing and psychology have in common (in case you don’t know yes, psychology is a science). The answer is simple at first glance – they have the human brain in common. Certain cognitive mechanisms take part in the process of all these social media commercialization. People get tired of seeing too many ads all over the internet, and at some point, our brain stops to respond with the hidden message, meaning we no longer pay attention to the ad. Combining psychology with CMM can be a recipe for success! Taking advantage of psychological theories can help you be a reasonable and successful marketer.

What is social media marketing?

Before we start discussing how to use psychology in marketing, let’s explain what social media marketing is in general is and why it is important for your business. SMM is the use of social media networks and websites to increase your brand awareness, connect to your customers, and drive website traffic. This means publishing relevant content on your company’s platforms, analyzing results, contacting with your followers, managing advertisements. There are lots of popular social media platforms and you probably use many of them (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube). People use all of them to search for things in need and to find people or companies. There is also a range of social media tools that marketers use to build and grow their brand. But success is hard to achieve by using only these tools without taking psychological mechanisms into account and here’s why.

Using psychology in SMM

Psychology helps us understand why people behave the way they do, why they think what they think and why they feel certain emotions. All these things are important for having better campaign results and guide your content and strategies which are why marketers today are so interested in the results of psychological studies. Several psychological principles take a huge part in social media marketing, so let’s start discussing it with the most important ones.

Reciprocity principle

Reciprocity is one of the most commonly used terms in social psychology. It means that if I do something positive for you, you will eventually feel that you need to do something for me in return because you feel cooperative towards me and it is expected that you will do something positive for me. Now if you think that people don’t do everything on a purpose to get benefits, you are mistaken because psychologists say that it’s a social norm that works in every culture and society and we can’t help it, it’s a social obligation and the process is unconscious.

How can we use this norm in SMM? As marketers, you should know that reciprocity can produce many benefits like gaining new customers or increasing their loyalty. If you give away something first (even such as a positive customer experience), you will get something back in return, and this something maybe the commitment and dedication of your customers. And if your gift will be a surprise, people will like it even more. Also, creating a little happiness is enough and the gift doesn’t have to be big or expensive either. Using social media platforms, making these small gifts is even easier. What counts is that you are trying to make your consumers happy which is completely enough for them to feel appreciated.

Halo effect

The so-called Halo effect is a principle first introduced by the famous behaviorist psychologist Edward Thorndike and it is a cognitive bias in which our impression of something influences how we think and feel about it and takes part in our evaluation of it. For example, if a consumer scrolls down your FB page and sees something attractive, immediately he has an impression (“This page looks nice”) and it impacts their evaluations on the overall view (“They must have the high-quality product”). You can simply use this principle in SMM. If your customers like one of your products or a certain feature, you can spotlight that product more often. The same applies to your campaigns and ads. You can use Halo Effect to generate more positive perceptions of your users. However, be careful as this effect works both ways and if your customer dislikes one aspect of your service, they may have negative perceptions of everything connected to it.

Foot-in-the-door technique

It’s one of the most commonly used methods in marketing psychology and means that if somebody agrees to a small request, the chances that they also agree to a second, larger request is higher. So, you can make a small request on your social media platforms, and once a person agrees to it and writes to you, they find it difficult to refuse a bigger request. That way you can influence customers to make a purchasing decision. Particularly, you can get them using free trials and once it ends, they can upgrade to the paid model. This is the tactic the marketers on Duolingo, Netflix, and many many other platforms actively use.

Color psychology

Everybody knows how big the impact of colors on human behavior is and it should never be underestimated in social media marketing. Research shows that people make up their minds about a product in about 90 seconds and how surprising it may sound, 70-90% of this decision is based only on color. Colors have a huge influence on our mood and emotions and even more, brands of certain colors have monopolized these colors in our minds.

For example, something in blue and white is eventually associated with Facebook, while red and white are the colors of CocaCola. The name of colors used in marketing also takes part in the way we perceive them. And fancy names grab our attention more easily than their generic counterparts. For example, I’d order the mocha sounds better rather than the brown coffee. But you should know that wasting time on studying color psychology isn’t necessary because there is no one color that fits everything and the important thing is to test and continue to optimize.

This is why you should worry about the interface of your social media platform, as it’s the first thing the consumers see when they start to search for a desirable product. And web-design is an essential thing for convincing them that your brand is effective and authoritative. You should use the most visually appealing font sizes, proportions, etc. Just try to make it as attractive and as different as possible to make it hard to forget and abandon the basic principles of web design.

How to use psychology in SMM?

Understanding the psychological reasons why we use social media and we take certain actions is important for social media marketers. There are many different reasons why people post things on social media. Some of them want to grab others’ attention, others want to exhibit their personality traits or just make themselves happy. For marketers, it’s important to realize that each industry has its typical demographic users. For instance, the beauty and fitness industry is likely to attract more selfie users than some kind of official or government-related industry. This is why you should check which adverts and campaigns gain the highest popularity for your customers.

One more interesting thing is that people tend to be conformists. They simplify their decision-making process by following other people. The proof in SMM can be just the number of your followers. Growing social following is easy on social media platforms, regardless they are your target audience or not. So, if you see someone posting something pleasant about your brand or service, share it, and thank the author for the mention. It’s just an easy way to have an impact on your customers.


Finally, what we can suggest is that taking the basic principles of social and marketing psychology into account will highly probably help your social media pages and websites get promoted and make your business grow. The above-mentioned strategies and principles are just a few of them, but there are lots of different and interesting facts about human psychology, their behavior, thinking, and emotions, and gaining more information about all these things will help you become a more successful social media marketer.

Giorgi Mikhelidze
Giorgi Mikhelidzehttp://www.forexnewsnow.com
Giorgi is a Georgian-born Financial enthusiast. He has been following the development of the Financial sector for 4 years now and has been actively involved in trading Forex and Cryptocurrencies. He is currently a Partnership Manager and news reporter at www.forexnewsnow.com
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